From Publishers Weekly
Fatah (Chasing a Mirage) describes the tensions between followers of Islam and of Judaism, attributing the lack of understanding and compassion between these groups to the scriptures they study and propaganda spread by radicals. Fatah explains that from a young age Muslim children are taught to pray for the downfall of other religions, especially Judaism, and though "most of us ignore it as nothing more than the rhetoric of the screaming cleric," lingering suspicion about Jews remains "for our entire lives, even if we never meet one." He also examines beliefs that many Pakistani Muslim's voice, such as blaming Israel for the Bird Flu, and the fact that in order to be considered an intellectual or a faithful Muslim, one is expected to wholeheartedly embrace these rumors as fact; to speak out against propaganda is slanderous and those who doubt the teachings of religious leaders are dehumanized. Pakistani textbooks and TV shows support these rumors as facts, widely disseminating anti-Semitism daily. In spite of all this, Fatah offers examples of Muslims supporting, befriending, or even saving Jewish people, demonstrating the importance of tolerance and understanding in a world full of opposing beliefs and ideologies. (Oct.)
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Most stringent Muslim critiques of Islam are written by scholars for scholars. Journalist Fatah knows that scholarship but writes for general readers—moreover, on an aspect of Islam rarely publicly discussed in the West. Genocidal hatred of the Jews is endemic among Muslims. But, Fatah argues, it is fueled by a biography of Muhammad composed long after his death, and is a relatively recent development. After limning the 2008 Chabad House massacre in Mumbai and noting Christian anti-Semitism’s influence on Muslims, Fatah turns to the early-twentieth-century mufti of Palestine’s alliance with Hitler; Israel’s ill-advised aid to Hamas to check Arafat’s PLO; and anti-Semitism in the hadith, or sayings of Muhammad, and, finally, in two spellbinding chapters looks at the prophet-directed massacre of a whole Jewish tribe that had stayed out of the 627 Battle of the Trench—according to the biography. That incident probably never happened and, with the vicious hadith, thoroughly contradicts the true text of the Qur’an. This strikes a strong blow for Muslim-Jewish rapprochement, reconciliation, and loving fellowship. --Ray Olson